Opening a new restaurant is a peculiar mix of exciting and daunting. The industry is not exactly the birthplace of many get-rich-quick success stories: a lot of restaurants fail within the first year of doing business. This usually happens due to lack of planning. Then again, if you manage to overcome the challenges on the road to profitable operations, you could earn good money. Numerous other restaurants are likely popping up across town, so get ready to cover all the bases.
A game plan
The cornerstone of your endeavor is a comprehensive business plan. Restaurants have numerous moving parts and to make sense of it all, you should try to streamline the operations. Your own personality, knowledge, and preferences should dictate key decisions like the target market, menu, pricing, startup capital, employee hiring, marketing plan, and location of the restaurant.
Without a business plan in place, you cannot hope to secure the financing for your business. Eateries are not in such a favorable position to land great loans, but it is certainly possible. Most owners rely on banks, small business agencies, and private investors. Ballpark figures do not cut it, so calculate how much money you need in order to get the ball rolling.
Factor in total operating costs and major areas of spending such as marketing, rent, and staff. Once you tap into sources of financing, start filling in the paperwork. Do it sooner rather than later because some permits and licenses take months to get approved. I am talking about liquor licenses, workers compensation, sign permits, etc.
Hitting the mark
In the restaurant business, location plays a pivotal role. It determines the population base and popularity of your place. In a nutshell, you need to attract enough people without the time or willingness to cook. In general, these are predominantly working parents, singles, and elderly. Just bear in mind that you cannot capture the entirety of the market, nor should you try.
Therefore, identify your target market instead of betting on universal appeal. Do your homework and keep your fingers on the pulse of changing lifestyles and demographics. Assess foot traffic and see how many restaurants you have to compete with in the area. Make sure that there is enough parking space around and beyond everything else, that there is room in the market for your business.
Fleshing out the concept
Furthermore, come up with a name for your restaurant. It should echo the theme, location or concept. Also, decide which type of restaurant makes the most sense. Is it going to be a casual diner or a high-end place for fine dining? Do you wish to open a microbrewery or a pub? Another thing you need to decide is whether you want to serve a specific type of cuisine.
Regardless of your choices, pay close attention to layout and design, as they have a profound impact on the atmosphere and feel of the space. Of course, there needs to be ample space to accommodate seating and waiting areas as well as a bar and restrooms. Moreover, commercial kitchens require large walk-in refrigerators and top-notch ovens.
Quality furniture comes in handy and provides the much-needed comfort. Décor is not to be overlooked either and depending on your concept, you may have to install features like drive-through windows. So, do not make the mistake of underestimating the space requirements. Strike a fine balance between aesthetic appeal and prime functionality.
Note that your space IS your brand, an aspect that sets you apart from a boatload of other restaurants. Likewise, keep a close eye on who you hire for kitchen and floor. People are the glue that holds your operations together. Bartenders, kitchen staff, and waiters should all work well as a team and enable you to put the best face of your brand forward.
Finally, as a new restaurant, you should spread the word and make a name for yourself. There is a multitude of ways to pull this off, from handing out flyers to carrying out social media campaigns. It usually pays off to combine traditional advertising with online marketing. And considering the cost-effectiveness of the latter, you should not fail to set up a website and social media accounts.
Get down to business
There are no guarantees in the restaurant business, merely steps that take you closer to your goals. So, follow the easy-to-digest guidelines: find a suitable location, sort out the financing, and tool up. Scope out the surrounding business landscape and hire the right people. Map out everything on the paper before you make a single purchase. Carve your niche and embrace a targeted approach. Put together a welcoming ambience and provide a stellar dining experience.
Author: Dan Radak is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.